December 12, 2007

"You women have heard of jalopies/You heard the noise they make/Let me introduce you to my Rocket '88."

Ike Turner — one of the originators of rock and roll — has died.

"Rocket 88" — according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — "is widely considered the first rock and roll record."

ADDED: Jon Pareles writes a nice, full-scale obituary for the NYT. One issue, but only one issue, is the way he treated Tina Turner:
Ms. Turner’s [autobiography, “I, Tina”] describes domestic violence, infidelity and drug use; his [autobiography, “Takin’ Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner”] does not deny that, although he wrote... “Tina and me, we had our fights, but we ain’t had no more fights than anybody else.”

Tina walked out on him in 1975. Mr. Turner, already abusing cocaine and alcohol, spiraled further downward during the 1980s while Ms. Turner became a multimillion-selling star on her own. A recording studio he had built in Los Angeles burned down in 1982, and he was arrested repeatedly on drug charges. In 1989 he went to prison for various cocaine-possession offenses and was in jail when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Very sad. A flawed man. But he's just died, and he was a great musician.

19 comments:

Jimmy said...

And after he introduced them to his Rocket 88 he would introduce them to his fists.

Will Conway said...

something like that, yeah

JohnAnnArbor said...

Remember when he said he only hit Tina with his open hand, not a fist? Like that was OK.

What a jerk.

Trooper York said...

Ike Turner, Sr.: Hey, Anna Mae, where you goin'. I need to get some sleep!
Tina Turner: Go straight to hell, Ike!
(What's Love Got to Do with It, 1993)

George said...

Sorry, the first rock song was "I'm a Ding-Dong Daddy from Dumas" recorded by Louis Armstrong & His Hot Fives around 1924.

"I'm a honey drippin' daddy
Got a hard-hearted baby
She's a sheep shakin' Sheba
And hallelujah!"

Zep covered it on their third album, played it just two nights ago.

Trooper York said...

Tim Russert: Gentleman can you give the name of your favorite philosopher?
Governor Romney: Brigham Young
Governor Huckabee:Jesus Christ
Ron Paul: Marshall Applewhite
Senator McCain: Admiral Bull Halsey
Tom Tancredo: Bill “The Butcher” Cutting
Fred Thompson: Teddy Roosevelt
Rudy Giuliani: Ike Turner.

Ron said...

Dream date, Ike Turner or Rick James?

Roger Sweeny said...

Just this morning I was singing,

You know you love him.
You can't understand
Why he treat you like he do
When he's such a good man.

John Stodder said...

I was in New York around my birthday in 1998. My company had promised to take us all to the Blue Note for dinner and a show, but it turned out the only person who wanted to go was me. So I went by myself.

The headline act was Joe Louis Walker and the Boss Talkers, a youngish blues act. About halfway through their set, up comes Ike Turner to play guitar and do a little singing.

I had the same reaction as all of you. The horrible man! But let me tell you -- his musicianship was unbelievable. It was one of the best guitar performances I've ever seen. I really wasn't too sure what he was famous for other than being married to Tina Turner and playing in a band with her, but this guy's guitar work is like the missing link between R&B and rock and roll. I paid to stay for another set, it was so great.

If more of you had seen him that night, he might be famous for something more than hitting his wife. Not to excuse that of course. But Ike Turner is hardly the only brilliant performer who committed crimes of violence, and I'm sure a few of the others are in your regular cultural repertoire.

Bilby said...

This reminds me of some Oldsmobile Rocket 88 commercials I saw recently while browsing Youtube. The catch line in a couple was "A Rocket for Every Pocket."

SteveR said...

Yeah Ike's far from the only rock n roller to do something bad. No excuses but "abuse" goes a lot farther than hitting someone so if we are going to condemn, its a long list.

igbalonigbanlo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

Zep O2 Vid

Kashmir (Audio only)

Good Times

No Quarter

Watch now before they are disappeared.

joe said...

George, I don't know that Armstrong song but there is a Duke Ellington one from the '30's that I always thought was a rock song - "Rockin'in Rhythm"

Cabbage said...

Everyone, even monsters, deserves a 24 hour moratorium on speaking ill of the dead. No one is justifying anyone's actions, but we shouldn't rush to speak ill of the dead.

I'll start telling my Ike Turner jokes tomorrow.

/not that I post here that often, but I'm studying for finals and need some internet breaks

Revenant said...

You can't let the fact that a musician is a horrible person bias your appreciation of his or her music. *Most* musicians, in rock, rap and other pop music at least, aren't the kind of people you'd really want to spend time around.

Mutaman said...

Anyone who hears the name Ike Turner and thinks only of his history with Tina, simply doesn't know anything about the history of popular music.

Is it true that Ike witnessed his father being lynched?

Anyhow, thanks for the memories Ike and RIP.

PS. The first Rock and Roll Song was "Saturday Night Fish Fry" by Louis Jordan. It was also the first Rap song.

Ron said...

It seems a bit odd to say, and I know Ike isn't necessarily the first here, but doesn't this seem like a "natural" demographically predictable death? No accident, or murder, or OD ,etc, just a natural coming of age and passing...We're not used to seeing that in "Rock Era" figures... ah, well, more coming...

Joan said...

we had our fights, but we ain’t had no more fights than anybody else.

There's a level of delusion there that's astonishing. Or maybe poor Ike really believed that all guys beat up their wives and then sweet-talk them into going on stage anyway.

Is that delusion a function of his upbringing, his drug use, his phenomenal ego, or his artistic impulse (the feature that enabled him to create such amazing music, that set him apart from 'ordinary')? Or are all those things so mixed up we could never disentangle them? Could we have had Ike the musician without the drugs and violence? Was it worth it?

Many musicians and artists do bad things, but usually, the primary victim is themselves. I can't think of another artist who physically abused his wife the way Ike did with Tina. I can think of plenty of artists who abused drugs or alcohol and caused a lot of mental anguish for their loved ones, but their self-destruction is somehow more acceptable -- and forgivable -- than behavior like Ike's. We're willing to give the addicted artist a pass because he "suffers for his art," but we'll never be able to do the same for Ike and men like him. It's one thing for an artist to choose to suffer, but why should he inflict suffering on those around him? Ike was too much a thug to be easily forgiven.

This calls to mind the situation with Patti Boyd, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton. Why are we so willing to give Harrison and Clapton passes for the way they treated Boyd and the other women in their lives? They were egotistical assholes, but we all accepted those aspects of their personalities because of their artistic brilliance. Of course, they never beat Patti up, either. If they had, and it was something we all knew about, would they still be as popular today? I don't think so.

(Similarly, if you believe that Bill Clinton raped Juanita Roderick, and got rough with Kathleen Willey, there's no way you can ever respect the man again. If you don't believe those things ever happened, it's easy to still love the guy for his charisma and accomplishments.)